At the beginning of the 20th century, when 12-string guitars first appeared in the United States, the instruments were considered novelty items, curiosities, freaks of guitar making that were beneath the dignity of serious companies like Martin and Gibson. But when Blind Willie McTell picked up a Stella 12-string in 1927, and then basically never put it down, the instrument was suddenly legitimized.

A folk singer named Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly, had actually made the Stella 12-string his own earlier, in 1912, but Lead Belly had so many scrapes with the law and spent so much time in prison that he wouldn’t get a chance to popularize the ringing tones of the 12-string until the 1930s and ’40s. Even then, his biggest hit, “Good Night Irene,” came after his death in 1949.

Pete Seeger and the Weavers kept the 12-string sound alive until the 1960s, when groups like the Rooftop Singers (“Walk Right In”) made it the go-to instrument on the commercial folk scene. Gibson was ready with its B-45 in 1961 and its B-25 in 1962, while Martin got on board a bit later with its D12-20 in 1964 and D12-35 in 1965.

The loudest noise in 12-strings, though, was made by Rickenbacker, thanks to a custom, one-of-a-kind 12-string version of its 325 hollowbody electric guitar made in 1964 for John Lennon of the Beatles. George Harrison also became a Rickenbacker acolyte, playing his Rickenbacker 360 12-string on songs like "A Hard Day’s Night."

One musician who liked that sound a lot was Roger McGuinn of the Byrds. Reportedly, he bought a 360-12 after seeing the movie named after of the famous Beatles song. He went on to play a 12-string on one of the Byrds’ biggest hits, “Turn Turn Turn.”

By the late 1970s, newer companies like Taylor made acoustic 12-strings part of their lines. Once again, a key musician would cement the instrument's sound in our collective soundtrack. In this case it was Neil Young who, while vacationing in Florida, purchased a Taylor 12-string, an 855, at a local music shop. Young liked his 855 so much he ordered a second, and Taylor subsequently gained widespread recognition when Young’s 855 figured prominently in his concert film, "Rust Never Sleeps."


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Vintage Guitars Info

Vintage Guitars Info

This great reference site features detailed sections on vintage guitar makers, including Gibson, Fender, Martin, Gr… [read review or visit site]

Vintage Guitar and Bass

Vintage Guitar and Bass

Want to see all the old brochures and ads for your favorite vintage axe? Check out this great site, which showcases… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

New Caline Cp-05 10 Isolated Output 9v 12v 18v Guitar Effect Pedal Power Supply*Rickenbacker 360 12 Fireglo 12-string GuitarVintage Norwood 12 String Pedal Steel Guitar W Dunlop Lap Dawg Tonebar 10 StringVintage 60's Gibson 12 String Acoustic Guitar W/ Alvarez CaseGibson Custom Built / 12 String -- Made In Usa Hamer Usa Eclipse 12 String Guitar *exc Conditon!*Akg D12e Vintage Bass & Kick Dynamic Mic With Case, Clip Mount. Very Clean2008 Matchless Clubman 35 Guitar Apmlifier Head And 2x12 CabBrownsville Semi-hollow Electric 12 StringBreedlove Premier J12 Custom Acoustic In MyrtlewoodMartin Standard D12-28 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar With Hard CaseTaylor 12-string 856ce Acoustic/electric Guitar1970s Yamaha Fg-230 12-string Guitar Acoustic Red Label Elliot Smith High ActionVintage Hofner Guitar 12 String For Parts / Repair / Restore Project 1977 Ibanez Double Neck 6/12 String With Extra Switches And Case12 Original Sprague Bumblebee .022 Capacitors - Guitar Tone Caps!Martin D12x1 12 String Acoustic GuitarBeautiful New Natural Double Neck 12 & 6 String Electric Guitar And CaseTaylor 454ce 12 String Acoustic Electric GuitarSeagull S12 + Cedar 12 String Acoustic Guitar12 Feet ( 4 Black/ 4 Yellow/ 4 White) 22 Awg Pvc Coated Guitar Wire 22 Gauge Daisy Rock Stardust Retro-h Semi-hollow Body 12 String Electric GuitarNew Blue 12 String Thinline Tele Style Semi Hollow Chambered Electric Guitar Rare Framus Falcon 12 Acoustic Guitar 1971 - Prototype Model Extremely Rare!Vintage Yamaha 12 String Fg 260 Guitar + Case Repair ProjectTaylor 856e 12 String Accoustic Guitar ** Perfect**Great Playing New Sunburst 12 String Jazzmaster Style Electric GuitarEko Ranger Xii 12 String Acoustic Guitar With Tkl Case New Frets!!Seagull S12+ Cedar 12 String Acoustic GuitarWashburn D10slh Left-handed Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Great Playing New Sunburst 12 String Jazzmaster Style Electric GuitarWashburn 12 String Acoustic Guitar Restore1990 Ovation 1858 Elite A/e 12 String W/ Hard Case***mint Condition***Hermida 2x12 Ported Cab UnloadedFender 12-string Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar A6016545**no Reserve** New Great Playing 12 String Tele Style Electric GuitarCaline Cp-05 10 Lsolated Output 9v 12v 18v Ac Guitar Effect Pedal Power SupplyBrand New Candy Apple Red Double Neck 12 & 6 String Electric Guitar And CaseRare 12 String Thinline Tele Electric Guitar Builder/ Luthier Supply KitJoyo Green Jf12 Voodoo Ultimate Octave Guitar Effect Pedal True Bypass Us StockOld Usa Made Dreadnaught 6/12 Acoustic Guitar Case Excelsior Latches Fits GibsonWonderful Greg Bennett Samick D-7-12 Solid Cedar 12-string Acoustic Takamine 12-string Acoustic / Electric-the Cure,david Bowie,reeves GabrelTaylor 12 String A/eOvation Cs245 Cs 245 Celebrity 12-string Acoustic Electric Guitar No Reserve!!!Profx Guitar Pedal Board - Micro 2 Clear 16"x12"x3"Rickenbacker 330/12 Mg New With OhscDean Bocca 12 String BodyCozart Semi Hollow 12 String Electric GuitarGiannini Craviola Acoustic Electric Steel 12 String Guitar Refurbished Demo !Conrad Violin Shaped Hollow Body 12 String Guitar For Restoration, Parts/displayAwesome 5a Quilted Maple Block 20 7/8 X 12 1/4 X 1 11/16: Guitar, Luthier, CraftNew Caline Cp-12 Pure Sky Overdrive Guitar Effect Pedals Free Shipping To Us OdSwr Golite 1x12Vintage Eko 12-string Acoustic GuitarNew 12 String Strat Style Natural Adler Electric Guitar Sst10-12n And Gig BagCaline Cp-05 10 Lsolated Output 9v 12v 18v Guitar Effect Pedal Power Supply New@Vintage 20, Head & !x12 Extension Cab By Vintage Sound Amps, Inc. New 12 String Thinline Tele Style Semi Hollow Chambered Finished Electric GuitarMusic Man Ball Family Reserve Jp12 7-string + Ohsc/coa ***new Price***

Recent News: 12 String Guitars

Source: Google News

Arts calendar
Charlotte Observer, December 18th

The cast is Domingo, guitar and vocals; Jim Cooper, 12-string guitar and vocals; Marty DeJarnette, lead guitar; Sam Falls, percussion; and Miriam Stirewalt, vocals. They will be joined by Ethan Uslan, two-time world ragtime piano champion; classical...Read more

Get the Led out with “Over The Hills And Far Away”
A.V. Club Milwaukee, December 17th

The introduction starts with an acoustic melody that goes from a plucky beginning into a real riff, providing crunchy power chords in the choruses and showcasing Page's six-string and 12-string guitar interplay. Then come those high Robert Plant vocals...Read more

The top 50 songs of the year: part two (30 to 11)
Daily Review, December 15th

The Shelter Song could easily be a lost tape from 1971 with its chiming 12-string guitar line and fuzzed out vocals, but when it kicks in with the chorus it's like the onset of a dream. It's a particularly pertinent reminder that retro doesn't have to...Read more

The Story of Glyn Johns' Life in 'Sound Man' Is Refreshingly Unpretentious
PopMatters, December 15th

in 1971 where Keith Richards arrived late, left his car parked in the middle of the street as he couldn't find a parking space, and then nods to sleep on-stage while tuning his 12-string guitar only to come-to an hour later and continue tuning to...Read more

WOSTER: Self-conscious serenading
Daily Republic, December 12th

I did a passable job on 12-string guitar — unless the song required a heavy dose of hand speed — and had a voice suitable for writing newspaper columns. The image of us sitting on the porch picking and grinning came to mind as I thought of the ways...Read more

Stompbox Offers 12-String Sound From A 6-String
Sonic State, November 26th

DigiTech has introduced the Mosaic Polyphonic 12-String Effect Pedal which they say provides the unmistakable sound of a 12-string guitar and its chime, jangle and harmonic richness. Tom Cram, Marketing Manager, DigiTech, told us, "The Mosaic is ideal ...Read more

SC4 free concerts to feature 12-string guitar player
Port Huron Times Herald, October 11th

St. Clair County Community College's Thursday Noon and Night Concert Series will continue Oct. 23 with 12-string guitar player Neil Jacobs. The concert will be at both noon and 7 p.m. in the Fine Arts Theatre on the college's Port Huron campus. Jacobs ...Read more

Taylor Guitars at 2014 Summer NAMM: 150E 12-String Guitar — Demo Video
Guitar World Magazine, July 28th

As always, several members of the Guitar World crew were on hand at the 2014 Summer NAMM Show in lovely and talented Nashville, Tennessee, taking pics, getting the latest gear news and shooting plenty of videos. While we were there, we stopped by the ...Read more